50 stunning statistics about the global population

Written by:
November 25, 2020

50 stunning statistics about the global population

The world’s population reached an eye-popping 7.8 billion people in late 2020, but that growth is expected to be coming to a halt by the end of the century.

Although global population is expected to reach 10.9 billion by 2100, falling fertility rates will just about bring an end to population growth, according to the Pew Research Center, based on data from the United Nations. The global fertility rate is projected to drop to 1.9 births per woman by the end of the century, which is below the replacement rate of 2.1 births, the Pew Research Center reported. In November 2020, the rate was 2.5.

Africa’s population will continue growing: It now stands at 1.3 billion and is projected to double by 2050. More than half of the world’s growth will take place in sub-Saharan Africa. But other areas have slowed or are slowing. For example, Japan had 400,000 fewer people in 2017, when the number of babies fell short of the number who died. Fertility rates in Europe have been low for decades.

Life expectancy is increasing, and is expected to rise to just over 77 years in 2050, but not in the least developed countries, which are struggling with high rates of mortality and other problems.

In Europe, Italy has the highest percentage of older people. On the other hand, in Afghanistan, which has seen decades of war, the median age is 18.4 years. China and India remain the largest countries in the world, with populations of more than 1 billion each, though India is projected to eventually overtake China. The smallest state is Vatican City followed by island nations in the Pacific, among them Nauru.

If the global fertility rates are shifting over time, other changes in population have been more abrupt, the result of disease, natural disasters, and wars. The bubonic plague killed nearly 200 million people over the centuries.

Stacker compiled this list of stunning statistics about our global population from United Nations reports, news articles, academic studies, and other documents.

World population soars to 7.8 billion

The world’s population reached 7.8 billion in late 2020. It has increased dramatically, nearly tripling since 1950. One reason for the jump is that more women and men are surviving to reproductive age.

China and India are the world’s largest countries

Asia has a population of 4.7 billion or 61% of the world’s people. China and India each have more than 1 billion people and remain the world’s largest countries. China’s population stands at 1.44 billion, while India’s is at 1.39 billion.

40% of migrants are from Asia and the Pacific region

Asia and the Pacific region are responsible for 40% of international migrants throughout the world. Even more people from these areas are moving within their own countries from rural areas to urban cities.

City dwellers are 40% of population in Asia and the Pacific region

Two out of every five people in Asia and the Pacific area live in cities, a number that is expected to rise in the next 20 years as people search for better opportunities within their own countries.

Fertility rate in Southeast Asia averages 2.5 births

The fertility rate in Asia averages 2.1 births per woman, close to replacement, but that rate is not the same throughout the region. In East Asia, the family size is 1.7 children for each woman, while in Southeast Asia, it is 2.5.

Number of 60 year olds will double in Asia

The number of people who are 60 or older will double by 2050 to a total of 1.3 billion people in the Asian and Pacific regions. The number of older people is now one in 10. By 2050 that percentage will reach one in four people.

Some women will be left without pensions

East and Northeast Asia will have an even larger proportion of older people than other areas. There one in three people will be over 60, and they will mostly be women without pensions or social safety nets.

Japan population to fall 15%

Japan is the only country in Asia that is projected to see a 15% drop in its population by 2050. The other countries in this category are all in Europe.

Half of Asia’s population to live in south and southwest

By 2050, 31% of the Asia-Pacific region’s population is expected to live in the east and northeast sections of Asia, down from 42% in 1980. The shift will be to the south and southwest areas of Asia, which will be home to almost half the population.

China population to decline 31.4 million in 30 years

China’s population is expected to drop by 2.2%, or 31.4 million people, by 2050. India is expected to become the most populous country in 2027, surpassing China.

Steepest population drop in Cook Islands

The Pacific’s share of the total population is rising, from 0.8% in 1980 to 1.1% in 2050, but Cook Islands, a nation of 15 volcanic islands that are spread out over nearly 800,000 square miles of the southern Pacific Ocean between French Polynesia and American Samoa, had the highest population drop in the world at 2.79% in 2017.

Japan’s population drops by 400,000

Japan shrunk by nearly 400,000 people in 2017. The 1,340,433 Japanese who died were replaced by only 946,060 babies born that year. On average Japanese women had 2.1 children in the 1970s, but that number has plummeted to 1.4. In a similarly wealthy country like Greenland, the birth rate is 2.09.

Japan’s population is getting older

More than half of Japan’s population is older than 46, making it among the oldest large countries. In 2015, 26% of Japan’s population was 65 or older.

Africa’s population is growing quickly

Africa, at 1.3 billion people, is home to 17% of the world’s population. It is the world’s fastest-growing continent. In the coming decades, its large proportion of young people and the growth of their families will play an important role in the distribution of the population.

Double trouble in the sub-Sahara

The population of Africa’s sub-Saharan area is expected to double in size by 2050. At 2.7% a year, its population is growing more than twice as fast as South Asia, and could reach 2.5 billion people in another 50 years.

Africa will see half of world’s growth

More than half of the world’s population growth expected until 2050 will take place in Africa. This rise in population is projected to take place even if fertility rates fall substantially.

Seven countries are home to 3.97 billion people

The world’s seven most populous countries are China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil, Pakistan, and Nigeria. Together they were occupied by 3.97 billion people in 2017 compared to 3.66 billion for every other country.

Population to rise to 9.6 billion mid-century

Global growth is slowing. After tripling in size, the world’s population now is projected to increase to 9.6 billion in 2050, or by 38% over 40 years.

10 European countries to see more than 15% declines

Ten countries whose populations are likely to decline by more than 15% by 2050 are in Europe. They include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine.

Fertility rates in Europe fall below 2.1 children

European countries have fertility rates below what are needed to replace their populations, which is about 2.1 children for each woman. Fertility rates in many countries have been low for decades.

You may also like: 'I have a dream' and the rest of the greatest speeches of the 20th century

Life expectancy on the rise

Life expectancy across the world is expected to rise to 77.1 years in 2050, up from 72.6 years in 2019. The increase is not uniform from country to country. The least developed countries fall 7.4 years behind the global average, as a result of high rates of mother and child mortality, conflicts, and the HIV epidemic.

More older people in Italy

In Europe, Italy has the largest proportion of older people, with 30% of its population 60 or older, and a median age of 47. In Germany, the proportion is 29% and in Spain it is 26%.

Albania is the youngest European country

With its population’s median age of 36, the youngest European country is Albania. Ireland’s population is also young by a different measure. Among its residents, 21% are younger than 15, the largest share of that age group in any European country.

Median age in US and Canada is 39

The United States and Canada, classified as Northern America by the United Nations, together have the world’s second oldest population. The median age is 39, which is eight years older than the global median age of 31.

The youngest Asian countries

China’s median age is similar to the U.S. median age and Canada’s, at 38. But the other most populous countries in Asia have much younger populations. The median age in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Philippines is 30 or younger, and 25% or more of these populations are 15 or younger.

Nearly all of Yemen and Afghanistan populations are under 60

Asia’s youngest populations are found in poorer countries. In Afghanistan, where the median age is only 18, and Yemen, where it is 20, wars have killed many adults and only 5% of the population is 60 or older.


Fertility rate to fall to 2.0 children

Fertility is expected to fall worldwide to 2.4 children for each woman in the years 2025 to 2030 and 2.0 in the years 2095 to 2100. That’s down from 2.5 children per woman in the years 2010 to 2015 and below replacement level. One caveat—there is uncertainty for the countries with high fertility rates.

Women in 21 countries have five or more kids

Countries with high fertility rates are those where women have five or more children on average—and there are 19 countries in Africa and two in Asia. The largest of those are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda in Africa, and Afghanistan in Asia.

Births drop below 2.1 per woman

All of the countries in Europe and Northern America are considered to have low-fertility—below 2.1 births per woman. That is also true for 20 countries in Asia, 17 in Latin America and the Caribbean, three in Oceania, and one in Africa.

Europe hit by bubonic plague

In the 1330s, the bubonic plague killed 75% of the populations of Venice and Pisa in Italy, more than any war. It arrived in Europe on Italian trading ships from Crimea. For almost four years, the first plague pandemic killed 25 million people in Europe, 33% of its population.

Pandemic left 2.5 million dead in France

The second pandemic brought a more severe form of the disease, and it killed 2.5 million people in France between 1600 and 1670.

One-fifth of Londoners died

When the plague spread throughout England in1665, it was named the Black Death because of black spots that appeared under the skin. The so-called Great Plague killed one-fifth of Londoners, or 100,000 people. That plague’s last outbreak in Western Europe was in Russia in the 1770s.

A third plague devastates India

The third pandemic began in southern China in 1865 and spread to Hong Kong and India. At least 12 million people died in India over 20 years.

200 million victims over the centuries

People continue to contract the bubonic plague, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia, but it is now treatable with an antibiotic. Since its first outbreak in the 1300s, it has killed nearly 200 million people.

The world’s smallest island nation at 11,000 people

Nauru, the tiny island nation in the Pacific Ocean, has a population of 11,000. It has an average population growth of only 0.5%.

Nations of islands

Tuvalu and Palau, two other nations in the Pacific Ocean, are slightly larger—Tuvalu with 11,342 people and Palau with 21,685. Tuvalu consists of three islands and six atolls, while Palau is made up of 340 islands.

Europe’s least populated countries

One of the smallest countries in Europe, San Marino is an enclave on the Italian peninsula with 34,232 people, surrounded by Italy near the Adriatic Sea. Other smaller countries include the principalities of Monaco, with 39,000 people; and Liechtenstein, with a population of 39,137.

Monaco is most densely populated country

Monaco is the most densely populated country in the world with its 39,000 people crowded into 0.780 square miles. Another distinction it holds is that it has the lowest poverty rate in the world.

Vatican City is the world’s smallest state

Vatican City, the smallest state in the world has 800 residents, is surrounded by the city of Rome, and is home to the pope and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. About the size of 61 football fields, it was created in 1929 by the Lateran Treaty between Italy and the Holy See.

Influenza pandemic killed 50 million in 1918

The 1918 influenza pandemic, caused by the H1N1 virus, killed at least 50 million people around the world and about 675,000 in the United States. Some 500 million people are estimated to have been infected with the virus.

38 million living with HIV

In 2019, there were 38 million people living with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. That is up from 30.7 million in 2010.

32.7 million died from AIDS

Worldwide, 32.7 million people have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the epidemic in 1981. In 2019, that number was 690,000 people, down 59% from the 1.7 million deaths in 2004.

World War I killed 20 million

World War I saw some 20 million deaths, among them 9.7 million military personnel and 10 million civilians. Another 21 million were wounded.

15 million die in World War II battles

World War II was even more deadly than World War I, with 15 million deaths in battle, and 25 million wounded. At least 45 million civilians died, though estimates vary widely and up to 50 million people in China may have been killed.


Adequate housing hard to find in Africa’s cities

In sub-Saharan Africa, 47% of city dwellers live in crowded housing without proper sanitation, according to the Borgen Project, a nonprofit that fights poverty and hunger. In 2010, 90% of the people were living on 21% of the land.

Kenya’s birth rate falls to 2.81

Kenya worked to lower its birth rate through a program called Vision 2030, according to the Borgen Project. It hoped to decrease the birth rate from 5 in 2009 to 3 by 2030, but actually reached its goal by 2018 with a rate of 2.81.

US population grows at slowest rate in a century

The annual growth rate of the population in the United States dropped to its lowest level in the past century in 2019. The country’s population increased by 1,552,022 since 2018, a rise of only one-half of 1%.

Up to 45 million die in China

Up to 45 million people died unnecessarily in China between 1958 and 1962 as a result of Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward, which was meant to modernize agriculture and reconstruct its economy. One result of the effort was the Great Famine.

Famine kills 5 million in Soviet Union

In the Soviet Union, 5 million people are believed to have died between 1921 and 1922 when drought led to crop failures, though various estimates are given. Also contributing to the number of casualties was the forced collectivization of farms, and an economic blockade of the Soviet Union by the Allies.

Man-made flood kills 890,000 in China

One of the deadliest floods of the past 100 years took place in China in 1938, when Chiang Kai-shek, the Nationalist leader, destroyed dikes on the Yellow River to try to stop the Japanese army. Some 890,000 Chinese are believed to have died.

Trending Now